It’s an ending and a beginning this week from two Geek Watch favorites in the world of all-ages comics.
First, Jimmy Gownley’s “Amelia Rules” series from Simon and Schuster wraps up with “Her Permanent Record,” as Amelia McBride deals with viral video fame and must hit the road to find her AWOL rockstar aunt.
If the last couple volumes felt a bit awkward as Amelia entered her tween years, “Her Permanent Record” ends the series on a high note with a strong story and lots of heart.
Amelia and her friends in G.A.S.P. (Gathering of Awesome Super Pals) go viral when leader Reggie performs a real act of heroism that’s caught on video (while getting ready to film a fake act of heroism). They inspire groups around the country to become “superheroes” and help their neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, Amelia still has cheerleading to deal with, along with ex-crush Kyle and her rockstar aunt, who disappears on tour when an ex-boyfriend publishes a nasty tell-all book. But Amelia, with the insight of a kid, figures out where she is and presents a series of pages that will bring a tear to your eye. Heck, I got misty again just looking at them as I wrote this review.
Throughout its run, the “Amelia Rules” series has excelled at balancing realism with hijinks. The situations get heightened for comedy for sure, but they never hit the outrageous, grating levels of a Disney Channel series. They’re grounded in a reality that’s completely relateable, even if you’ve never formed a group of superheroes with your friends or faced wannabe ninjas from across town.
It’s the difference between silly and manic, and Gownley gets extremely silly without losing sight of his characters, which are far more than a group of stock stereotypes. Amelia’s a complex girl who’s always wanted to do right but hasn’t always made the right choices.
There have been crushes, romances, fights, break-ups, reconciliations — all the stuff of childhood as friends grow and sometimes fight drifting apart. Not all threads from the series are completely tied up, but Gownley gets all the main ones, firmly setting Amelia on her path to growing up.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Gownley returns to Amelia one day, but I eagerly await his next project.
On the beginning side, we get J. Torres’ “Bigfoot Boy” from Kids Can Press. The collaboration with artist Faith Erin Hicks (“Friends With Boys”) launches with its first volume, “Into the Woods,” this week (officially Sept. 1, so it may be another week before it hits comic shops).
It’s about a boy, Rufus, who stays with his grandmother out in the boonies. While exploring the woods behind her house (and following the girl next door), he finds a totem in the trunk of a tree that turns him into a bigfoot when he reads the inscription, “Sasquatch.” This annoys said girl, Penny, who actually lives there and knows those woods backwards and forwards. It also ticks off the leader of a pack of wolves, who finds the boy unworthy of the responsibility the totem instills.
It’s a quick, breezy read (too quick for the price) as Rufus is introduced to this newfound power and a squirrel sidekick named Sidney. He doesn’t even get to do any protecting before the book ends, so you’re also left with the question of just what he’s supposed to do. Stop development of the land around his grandmother’s and Penny’s houses?
What it lacks in character development, it somewhat makes up for with the fun factor. What would you do if you could suddenly turn into Bigfoot? You’d probably stomp around and have some fun, too, especially if you found out you could suddenly talk to animals.
Hicks’ art complements the story well. Her facial expressions and big, expressive eyes are great.
“Bigfoot Boy” follows another recent, innocuous Torres book, “Power Lunch.” I was hoping for something with more depth, but any book of his that’s fun to hand to a kid is worth a look. And for someone as prolific as Torres, that wish could be just around the corner.